Terrorism of a different order Saturday, Jan 10 2009 

A queue for petrol before a petrol bunk on Friday

A queue for petrol before a petrol bunk on Friday

The fuel shortage that gripped the country following the strike by oil sector offices association should be an eye opener to all. It showed that we can strike heavier than the terrorists. And the official machinery and the people could be taken by surprise when the petrol bunks dried up one after another. Nothing much different from the situation we faced when terrorists struck Mumbai and other places.

If the strike had gone on for one more day, several sectors of the economy and critical services would have come to a standstill. Of course, that is hypothetical. However, we cannot still guarantee that it would not happen tomorrow.

As a country we are ill-prepared to handle any king of emergency or disaster ranging from terrorist attacks to natural calamities. Though we have disaster management policies and agencies to handle industrial accident and natural calamities, few districts have assessed the risks they face and are fully prepared to act in the case of emergency. Preventive measures are hardly taken ever taken even if there is prior warnings about disasters. Perhaps that is nothing when compared to communal clashes and strikes which we fail to prevent even if there is advance intelligence.

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US, India, China and oil prices Thursday, May 8 2008 

The United States has spawned another debate after the one over food scarcity. It rightly points out that increased fuel consumption in India and China is one of the reasons for increase in crude oil prices. Yes, it is just one of the reasons.

But, the steep rise in oil prices began with American invasion of Iraq (See BBC report), and it is yet to end. Many have opined that the US attacked Iraq for oil and for fear of fall in value of dollar. (Reasons cited by the U. S. itself like presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and Saddam’s terrorist links have since been disproved.)

The attack, apparently, only accentuated the problems. Increase in price of oil and fall of dollar is yet to be checked. Crude oil prices have increased from less than 30 dollars a barrel to more than 120 dollars a barrel. (Along with that terrorism shows no let up in Iraq. But the biggest failure of the U. S. in the Middle East is its failure to contain oil prices. The Arabs have beaten Bush in his neoconservative enterprise in the Gulf.)

Some facts should speak for itself (from the CIA Fact Book)
America with less than one third of the population of India consumes 20.8 million barrels of oil a day. This is eight times the consumption of India and one fourth of the world consumption. India consumes only 2.4 million barrels a day. European Union comes next to the U. S. with daily consumption of 14.7 million barrels. China is third with about 6.5 million barrels a day (in 2005).